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Russian jet fired missile near British plane in ‘malfunction’: minister

Russia, Belarus launch joint air force drills
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UK defence minister Ben Wallace said Thursday that a Russian fighter jet last month released a missile close to a British military plane carrying out a patrol over the Black Sea.

Wallace told parliament that the “potentially dangerous” incident on September 29 involved an unarmed RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint plane, a type of aircraft used for reconnaissance, flying in international airspace.

The Black Sea borders southern Ukraine and areas annexed by Russia such as Crimea.

The British plane was “interacted with” by two Russian Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jets “one of which released a missile in the vicinity” but “beyond visual range,” Wallace added.

While it was “not unusual for aircraft to be shadowed”, the minister said he had flagged “concerns” over the firing of the missile in a letter to Moscow counterpart Sergei Shoigu and Russia’s military chief of staff Valery Gerasimov.

He stressed the plane was unarmed and following a pre-notified flight path, adding that he felt it was “prudent” to suspend these patrols until a response was received.

The Russian side, in their response, blamed a “technical malfunction”, while acknowledging the incident took place in international airspace, the minister said.

Wallace announced that after consultation with allies, “I have restarted routine patrols, but this time escorted by fighter aircraft.”

Russia this month blamed a technical malfunction for a Sukhoi military plane crashing into a residential building near Ukraine.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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